The rumors are churning out faster and hotter than pancakes from the oven regarding Jimmy Butler.
Ever since his open demand for getting traded out of Minnesota, sports journalists are scrambling for any slightest clue for Jimmy Butler’s next destination. As we break down this likelihood, it is imperative that we consider another All-Star, who is also due for a big payday soon. That is none other than Kyrie Irving.
On first look, it may seem that Kyrie is going to be a Celtic for life. The winning situation seems perfect for an All-Star to thrive and perhaps win a couple of rings. However, the reality is, Boston has a glut of wingmen and there are at least three All-Stars, Al Horford, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, as well as three potential future All-Stars in Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and even Terry Rozier.
What it means is, Danny Ainge, the head of the front office, would have to make a shrewd, calculated decision during contract extension. For sure, the Celtics want to win for a long while and youth and succession is definitely a priority. Kyrie has had two major injuries in his years and he is right in his prime. Paying the super maximum contract to a great but battle-torn veteran in Kyrie may not seem wise. There is a higher chance that Celtics might consider storing their war chest to reward and retain Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who show huge promise as future leaders with a much longer runway of career than Kyrie.
With the huge money on the line, Kyrie has a possibility of finding another team capable of paying him big bucks and yet hand him the keys to be the leader. Being friends and having bonded with Jimmy Butler over USA basketball training, the time is just ripe for the duo to consider joining forces. The stature, winning desire and potential salary scale of both players seem viable to form a one-two punch combo in a team.
Let us look at some hypothetical situations that may see the duo land on the same team:
If we look at a more immediate timeline, which is until the February deadline, it is tough for Kyrie Irving to exit Boston Celtics after they have invested so much in his integration and recovery process. It seems more logical and logistically simpler for Jimmy Butler to take a one-way ticket to Boston.
The trigger for Tom Thibodeau to nod and part ways with his prized player is a solid offer with minimum two players from Boston such as like proven defenders who can bring the same hustle to the table such as Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris. Cash considerations with a future second-round pick may be in play too to sweeten the deal.
If we look at a longer-term view, 2019 summer free agency might offer even more options.
Los Angeles Clippers
The hire of Jerry West as the advisor to the Clippers is the first winning move.
Known as the maestro who talent-spotted bright stars and orchestrated the build-up that helped Lakers and Warriors win Championships, Jerry West “the Logo” is on the prowl again to build the next contender.
After dumping Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers now look entirely different.
With Marcin Gortat anchoring the center as a veteran, Tobias Harris and Danilo Gallinari flanking the small forward positions, the Clippers have a stable and proven unit. Reigning Sixth Man of the Year, Lou Williams, as well as international star Milos Teodosic providing firepower and playmaking respectively, the backcourt is fluid. Veteran Avery Bradley and Patrick Beverley form a solid defensive tandem at the backcourt that makes Clippers proficient in defending perimeter.
Jimmy Butler and Kyrie Irving will have much to rejoice when they enter this team to lead them to the playoffs. There is just sufficient cap space to offer entry-level maximum contracts to both stars to entice them to join this solid new roster.
New York Knicks
Now that all the scandals and negative news stopped sprouting from the Knicks, the team starts to look attractive again.
The main anchor of Kristaps Porzingis, Enes Kanter and Tim Hardaway Jr make the team a decent unit. Throw in Trey Burke, Mario Hezonja and Noah Vonleh, you have adequate wingmen rotation. Youth and promise is also present in Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina. The team lacks playoff experience and the leadership of both Kyrie and Jimmy would have their space to shine. Jimmy can specialize in the defensive and hustle tutelage while Kyrie can mentor the clutch plays and offense. Both alphas will have enough room to complement the Knicks roster.
The cap space of the Knicks will be much higher next season. This undoubtedly makes the Knicks a worthy home for any All-Star in the ranks of Kyrie and Jimmy, who are due for their big payday. If mouldability and potential is their cup of tea, the Knicks will definitely entice the duo to make a serious consideration.
One of the overlooked teams for many years, the Brooklyn Nets have given themselves breathing room through the offseason moves and player development.
DeMarre Carroll, Joe Harris and Allen Crabbe provides the stable contribution within the small forward unit, with DeMarre providing playoff experience. D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie are slowly forging their own niche complementing each other with offense and playmaking while carving their specialty in getting teammates open. Ed Davis and Jarrett Allen are the athletic bigs that anchor the post. Kenneth Faried offers a dual role in small ball center or classic power forward, offering decent contribution by cleaning the glass and put-backs.
This roster, though tentative in nature, offers a huge cap space flexibility and potential for further pieces to be traded for. With that in mind, Kyrie and Jimmy can hop onto Brooklyn if they want a bigger say in altering franchise directions and collect a handsome paycheck.